Saturday, 16 July 2016

Day 2: Bangkok To Krabi Resort , Ao Nang

Ao Nang Beach
I was super excited this day to begin with. It just a matter of a couple of hours before I could witness an infinity of turquoise colored water and sharp rocks jutting out from the sea.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:35 AM local time from Don Mueang Airport. Don Mueang was nearly 45 minutes drive from our hotel and since it was a domestic flight hence we were required to report only an hour before the flight time. But just to be sure, that we reach on time (people suggested Bangkok traffic was unpredictable at times) we had planned to leave by 6:30 AM itself.

We called the reception to send an attendant to carry our stuffs down. Within 5 minutes the attendant arrived and escorted us to the reception. Our cab was already waiting for us. The check out process was quite smooth and quick. They gave back the security deposit to us in dollars itself :).

All formalities done we were off on our way to the Airport. Thankfully it was early morning hence no vehicular traffic was there in the alleyways, else I shuddered at the thought of the jam that we had witnessed the day before at noon time. As we came from the alley into a bigger road we saw that already many stores were open and also street food vendors were already busy with chopping, frying and dishing out the goodies to people.  It was a bit unbelievable that even at 6:30 in the morning people had such enthu to shop and eat. Had it not been for the flight I wouldn’t have got out of the bed before 7:30 AM at the earliest. But then actually it’s a good idea to beat the crowd. If you are an early riser and want to peacefully do your shopping then early morning is the best time – pleasant temperature, no rush, ample walking space. This format of various timed markets was indeed something anyone would appreciate.

Soon we hit the highway. Any mega city looked pristine in the morning when there was no traffic; Bangkok was also not an exception. The air felt much cleaner and we were cruising at a constant smooth speed.

This day another family was supposed to join us from the airport. The Sharma family – Abhishek, Rajani and their 5 year old kiddo Kangan. From here it was a common trip for both the family. Abhishek is my husband’s colleague. When he came to know that hubby was planning for a Thailand trip this summer, he also decided to join with his family. It was summer holidays for his kid and they usually went for a long trip around this time every year. When we were dilly dallying with the dates of the trip, it was Abhishek who zeroed in on the dates because even before he booked a hotel, he had gotten the return flights from Kolkata to Bangkok as he had got some super cheap deals through makemytrip for this sector. The Sharma family was coming from Bhopal. But they decided to take a longer route to Kolkata via train and then Bangkok via flight.

We were in Maharashtra and either had the option of coming from Mumbai or Pune. We both were in favor of having a comfortable and less tedious route even if it meant a few bucks more. What’s the point if we get a whole lot tired before even the vacation started?  With a tired body one can hardly enjoy anything. So both the families had taken a different route to Bangkok. The Sharma family had arrived at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport in the wee hours of the morning, and were supposed to take the airport shuttle to Don Mueang. There is free shuttle service between the two airports, hence it’s convenient for travelers to go from one to the other airport without paying a hefty amount for taxis.

It took us around 40-45 minutes to reach the airport. The taxi dropped us at one of the gates. We entered the building but after walking for sometime we could not locate Air Asia counter, hence we started asking people but no one seemed to know or maybe there was a language problem. Finally we stopped a police officer moving around in his segway, to ask for direction. He mentioned that we should go to terminal 2. We came out of this terminal and looked around for any signboard saying “Terminal 2”. There was none. And there were hardly any people around to ask for direction. It was nearly deserted. We started walking straight down the direction the officer had indicated.
After a couple of minutes we saw some passengers offloading their luggages from a taxi. Hopefully we asked them about this elusive “terminal 2”. But they didn’t speak English nor did they understand. They only shook their heads.

So we kept walking. There was still no signboard or anything indicating Terminal 2. Finally we spotted a sweeper cleaning the pathway. We asked him and he pointed to the door just in front of us. We confirmed twice with him before going through the gates. Lo and behold we had finally reached the obscure terminal 2. Apparently it seemed that Terminal 2 was for domestic departures.

It’s really contrasting situation inside and outside the building. Outside we could find a soul whom we could ask for direction and inside the place it was buzzing with people. Glitzy food stalls were scattered all around the place. Finally we could see a lot of direction boards giving directions for the check in counters.

If Suvarnabhumi was spectacular, Don Mueang wasn’t far behind. It also looked quite trendy and big.  We had to again walk for sometime before we reached the Check In area. The line wasn’t too long at the Air Asia counter and also there were quite a few number of counters which made the check in process quicker. One thing was we didn’t have to undergo baggage screening for our check in baggages. This could be viewed as a security threat but also it showed that since it wasn’t such a terror prone country, these people trusted the intention of the passengers.

When I was doing web check in for Air Asia flights, it didn’t allow me to book two seats together for the Bangkok-Krabi leg. If I was giving an auto selection option the website was choosing two seats in separate rows not even close to each other, even though I could see many seats available adjacent to each other. Auto selection offered seat allocation free of cost. And if I wanted to pick my own seats it was putting a charge on it. What kind of crap was that I didn’t understand. Maybe it did so, so that in panic you would pay for the seats just because you wanted the family to sit together. I had read the same kind of experience by many travelers travelling in Air Asia. A mother had written in a forum that she and her little kids got separate seat allocations. What I did was I had done the web check in with two different seats only, thinking that it’s a one hour flight. But while doing the baggage drop at the counter I asked the person whether we could change our seats to something side by side. I also requested for a window seats if possible. And surprises I got both the demands met. So you see even if you get separate seats while doing web check-in in Air Asia, you could reach the airport a bit early and ask for changing your seats.

Once we had check-in we decided to grab some breakfast. The Sharma family had yet not arrived. Abhishek had not purchased a SIM yet so he was contacting hubby through airport wifi. But for long we didn’t hear from them so we thought they were yet to reach Don Mueang .

For breakfast we weren’t looking for a Thai spread, rather something to fill up our stomach without burning a hole in our pockets. Any food stalls inside the Airport is expensive so we choose the safer option – Mac D.  We had some hiccups choosing the chicken items from the menu as the sales guy at the counter had difficulty understanding us. Finally we settled for two spicy chicken burgers and fries. The bill came to 247.66 THB which was cheap as per Airport standards.

Usually Mac D provides spare glasses which you can fill up with water. I went to the counter to get some glass but they were totally clueless about what I was asking. After like 5 minutes of struggle someone guessed that I was asking for water. But they didn’t have option of water, only you could get pepsi or sprite, so I dropped the idea.

The burger was good, chicken was very moist and crunchy and tasted better than what we get in our country. We had a lot of time in hand so we spent a leisurely 30 mins over the burgers. Yet there was no sign of the Sharma family. We waited for some more time, but then we felt guilty of occupying a table without having something to eat for a long time. So we decided to proceed for the security check.

The security check was done in a jiffy and we proceeded towards the waiting lounge.The waiting lounge was very huge. It had wide expanse of empty spaces than sitting places. It almost felt like you can play football in the empty area, it was that big!

We settled down in two empty seats. In between we got a message from Abhishek that they have reached the airport. It was 8th May and mother’s day. So we called up our respective homes and wished both the mothers. Most of the people sitting in the lounge were busy in taking selfies. There was a couple sitting in the front row of us and for the entire 30-40 minutes we were waiting they were engaged in taking selfies in all poses imaginable. We also took a couple of pics  but got bored of the background soon.

It was almost time for the plane. The Air Asia ground staffs were taking position near the exit door of the lounge. We wondered what kept the Sharma family from reaching still. Finally after some more wait hubby said he could see someone in the distance who looked like Abhishek. I looked back and saw a man walking down with luggages and a small girl hopping beside him. It was indeed them.  We exchanged pleasantries with the other family. Their girl Kangan was a super cute kiddo. She was a bit reserved for initial 10 minutes or so and then she came to full form. Rajani told us that Kangan had enquired whether we had a kid too and once she knew we didn’t she was at peace. She surely likes all the attention to herself. LOL! It was mainly because of her that our trip became even more enjoyable.
We also learned what made them so late. They didn’t web check in and also didn’t include luggage limit which booking the tickets. Hence they ran into a argument regarding the luggage charge. And after that they were also stopped at the security check as Rajani was carrying a deo bottle which was over 100 ml. Abhishek had even tried to reason with the officials that the new bottle was over 100 ml but now the content was less that 100 ml! But the officials made them discard the bottle eventually.

Soon we got the call for the boarding. We walked down the exit gates towards our aircraft. Both families had seats in different rows. The Sharma family was some rows behind us. The Air Asia seats were quite comfortable, much much better than what Indigo offered. Both were low cost airlines but there was so much difference.

Air Asia Food
The Air Asia Menu was also quite extensive. They had asian food items like thai green curry also as a part of the offering. And at affordable prices too. We were already filled with the burgers we had at Mac D, hence I thought of trying out something from the menu on our way back from Krabi.

Bird's Eye View of Krabi from flight
The flight was of 1 hr duration and time just flew. Just before the descent started we could see the wide span of the fabled ocean beckoning us. I felt a rush of adrenaline as the clouds cleared and I saw the sea. It was too far, but still I could spot the limestone mountains jutting out of the turquoise span. Ah what a visual delight it was!I have made it to the paradise!  I tried to capture the first glimpse of the Krabi landscape in the picture.

Soon we landed. The temperature was very pleasant outside. It wasn’t humid as compared to Bangkok even if it was so close to the sea. We nearly had to walk 200 yards to the terminal building from the point where the plane dropped us. With every step I took I was feeling happier. It was just a matter of some hours before I was in the sea.

It was a small terminal building possessing only the most basic facilities. There was only one belt from where we had to collect our luggage. Since there weren’t many people, we got our bags in next 10 minutes. We took an escalator up from where we could get the taxis.

There are several options like taxis, buses, shuttles etc to the Krabi town and surrounding places of Krabi. Bus was the most economical option but the bus wouldn’t provide a door-to-door drop to the hotels. It only stops in the designated bus stops. We didn’t know how far our hotel was from the bus stop so we didn’t take the bus. But actually we later got to know that the bus stop is right outside our hotel gates. So if you are staying at Krabi Resort, Ao Nang go for the bus.

We took a shuttle instead for 600BHT accommodating the 5 of us. Actually its like a minivan which could accommodate 8-10 people easily. We paid for the minivan and were asked to wait outside with the receipt for the vehicle to arrive. We waited for a couple of minutes before the driver came and picked us up.

Krabi was slowly unfolding before our eyes

We were staying in Ao Nang and not proper Krabi town, as we had heard it had one of the best beaches in Krabi and also nearer to the sightseeing places. It was approximately going to take 45 minutes to Ao Nang from Krabi Airport. We drove out of the airport and the scenery began to change. There was so much greenery around and roads were nearly empty with hardly any vehicular traffic.
Krabi, the capital of southern Thailand's Krabi Province, is a town near the Andaman coast. The main attraction of this land is its white beaches and cluster islands. As we left behind the town area the scenery became totally unreal. We could see greenery filled random cliffs all around the roads. Clean gray span of clean roads, quaint single storied shops, restaurants fringed the roads, stunning rock formations, powder blue sky, pink and purple blossoms bursting out of the green hedges and occasional Thai traditional looking buildings. It was a scene straight out of a picture postcard or a Hollywood movie. I was absorbing every single frame in my minds camera.

First Glimpse of the Turquoise Span
While Krabi Town may be the provincial capital of this province, it's the beach town of Ao Nang 20 kilometers away that is tourist central in Krabi. After a long and picturesque drive we reached the fringes of Ao Nang. And the turquoise sea almost sprang out in front of us. That was a real dramatic moment. All of squealed together at the sight of the sea. We drove parallel to the palm-lined stretch of sand, multi shades of blue-green water, dominated by the large cliffs.

Laid Back Krabi-Ao Nang Town
Slowly we saw the resorts coming up in the landscape. We crossed Holiday Inn and a number or other resorts. Every corner of the town had a virgin untouched vibe. There was a relaxed atmosphere all around. And the area was so clean, it added to the beauty.

Krabi Resort Entrance

Finally we reached Krabi Resort around 12:30 PM. The moment we entered the gates of the resort I was spellbound at least. I had read that it was a big resort but how big I didn’t know then. The beautiful laidback ambience is so peaceful that you get rejuvenated immediately. Some arial shots of the resort is given below so that you get a fair enough idea about its location and size. Too Beautiful!

Arial View of Krabi Resort - Picture Courtsey Internet
Arial View of Krabi Resort - Picture Courtsey Internet

Arial View of Krabi Resort - Picture Courtsey Internet
Arial View of Krabi Resort - Picture Courtsey Internet
The reception area was very classy. Typical Thai architecture building. There were a lot of seating places all around. As I had already mentioned in the previous blog that all hotels in Thailand had check in time of 2 PM, same was the case with Krabi resort as well. The Sharma family was more tired than us since they were continuously travelling from 3 days. We tried to talk with the reception in giving us a room earlier but they said that rooms were being set up at that moment so we had to come around later. 
Krabi Resort Reception
So we kept our bags at the reception. The bags were properly tagged and kept together. There were luggages of many other tourists as well. So the hotel strictly followed the policy of no early check ins.

The reception area had washrooms. So we decided to freshen up a bit and then head for having lunch. The washroom was spacious and neat. The first thing that mesmerized us was the soothing lemongrass fragrence  that was omnipresent in the washrooms. Me and Rajani were wondering from where it was coming, then we noticed small oil dispensers placed below the handwash area. The fragrance was so much soothing that we delayed coming out of the washroom just to soak in the heavenly essence!
Day & Night View of Krabi Resort Reception
We decided to have food in the Ao Nang town rather than the hotel and made our way out of the resort. 

The day had just begun for us in Krabi and we had a lot to discover in the next few hours.
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